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Tailgate Traditions in the SEC

By Inside Columbia
Truman the Tiger rides into a Mizzou tailgate.

For more than a century, tailgating has been inextricably linked to football. And any diehard University of Missouri Tiger fan knows that it is an essential part of the whole experience. From hearing the familiar chants of M-I-Z, and of course yelling back Z-O-U, to the standard sight of Truman’s Taxi, the vintage firetruck that carries Truman around Faurot Field, we have traditions that make every home game special.

But we’re definitely not alone.

Many of Mizzou’s SEC rivals have longstanding traditions that are incorporated into every home game. We decided to detail a few of the traditions those rivals hold dear, from pre-game marches and unique calls to the famed “Midnight Yell” of west Texas. Find out how our competition will be preparing for the game, then get ready to cheer on the Tigers all season long!

University of Alabama tailgate
Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama

University of Alabama

Mascot: Big Al
Colors: Crimson and white

According to university officials, of the countless traditions at the University of Alabama, fall tailgating is one of the best. More than 100,000 people and 250 RVs roll onto campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to cheer on the Crimson Tide, setting up tents, grills, TVs and more on the 22-acre greenspace in the heart of campus known as the Quad. Before kickoff, the famed Million Dollar Band and cheerleaders lead a pep rally to fire up fans before thousands are led to Bryant-Denny Stadium in what is known as the Elephant Stomp.

As the coaches and student athletes head into the stadium on the Walk of Champions, thousands of fans typically line both sides to cheer them on and get a glimpse of the team as the Crimson Tide gets ready to take the field.

University of South Carolina tailgate
Photo courtesy of the South Carolina Atheltics

University of South Carolina

Mascot: Cocky
Colors: Garnet and black

A truly unique tradition in South Carolina is tailgating on a train. But not just any train. The Cockaboose Railroad, as it’s affectionately known in honor of the Gamecocks, includes 22 rail cars permanently situated on a track just outside of Williams-Brice Stadium. Each of the cars has been obtained privately, extensively renovated and can be rented out for games. While each one is uniquely decorated, each car comes with flat screens, full kitchens and rooftop decks.

In another tradition of the Gamecocks, players are dropped off in Gamecock Park two hours and 20 minutes before each home game. The team then walks through a throng of fans, as well as the Carolina Marching Band, to get to the locker room and begin game preparations.

Texas A&M football
Photo courtesy of Texas A&M

Texas A&M

Mascot: Reveille
Colors: Maroon and white

In west Texas, it’s not just football that’s taken seriously — it’s tailgating too. At Texas A&M, fans are known for the “Midnight Yell,” a tradition where they fill Kyle Field with tens of thousands of people on the night before a game to get fired up. The tradition stems from when the university was an all-male military school and goes as far back as 1931.

And the yelling isn’t limited to the pre-game festivities. Instead of traditional cheerleaders, Texas A&M has yell leaders who wear all white and direct the faithful Aggie from the sidelines.

University of Arkansas tailgate
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Alumni Association

University of Arkansas

Mascot: Tusk (live mascot); Big Red
Colors: Cardinal and white

Fans of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks can be heard from a distance, thanks to their famous “Hog Call.” During tailgating and in the stadium itself, fans can be heard yelling, “Wooooooooo. Pig. Sooie!” at every opportunity. Since the 1960s, games and other football events have seen the presence of a live representation of the Razorbacks in Tusk, a Russian boar that closely resembles the wild hogs native to the Arkansas wilderness.

Festivities often begin as early as four hours before kickoff and, according to the Arkansas Alumni Association, the southwest corner of campus is where you can find tailgating fans congregating in parking lots, yards and tents, as well as in grassy spots near the stadium itself. One popular spot, according to the association, is the Hog Wild Tailgate the association hosts, which include catered meals, beverages, band and spirit squad performances and special guests from Razorback Athletics.

University of Tennessee football
Photo courtesy of the University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee

Mascot: Smokey, Junior Smokey & Davy Crockett
Colors: Orange and white

Few schools can really accommodate tailgating on the water, but at the University of Tennessee, you can find the Vol Navy for the Volunteers. This collection of boats docked on the Tennessee River near Neyland Stadium is home to the area’s best tailgating parties and has been since 1962. That’s when a radio broadcaster, George Mooney, first made the trip to a game by boat, starting what is now a beloved and unique tradition for the Volunteers.

To rally fans just before the game, the entire team runs through a giant T-shaped opening in the university’s band, another tradition that dates back to the 1960s.

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